A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Diabetes: How to prevent or delay with lifestyle changes

How to prevent or delay diabetes is quickly becoming an important topic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 98 million adults, 18 and older, have prediabetes. That amounts to more than 1 in 3 Americans that have prediabetes with 80% of those not knowing they have it.

Woman cooking healthy foods - diabetes prevention

One program that can help you on your health journey is the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP).

It’s eye-opening, given the number of people at risk or already living with diabetes.

Diabetes can cause serious health problems, such as heart diseaseheart failure, stroke, kidney disease, and eye and foot problems. Some predisposing factors for type 2 diabetes include being over age 45, obesity, ethnicity, family history of diabetes and an inactive lifestyle.

How to prevent or delay diabetes

Fortunately, research studies have found that moderate weight loss, healthy eating, exercise and tweaks to your lifestyle can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes among high-risk adults.

“Lifestyle changes are the best way someone can improve their quality of life with diabetes,” said Dr. Ram Pathak, endocrinologist at Marshfield Clinic Health System. “If you exercise for 30 minutes, five days per week and avoid diets high in sweets, like many desserts, you will be in a much better position.”

A pivotal aspect of diabetes management is diagnosing it in the early stages. Dr. Pathak says it is vital to stay up-to-date with your checkups, particularly if you are afraid you may be in the prediabetes stage or have a family history of diabetes.

“We know certain people have a higher-risk of developing type 2 diabetes if there is a family history,” Pathak said. “It is imperative for them to stay on top of their yearly or twice-yearly checkups.  With moderate weight-loss and exercise, you can delay or even prevent the progression of type 2 diabetes.”

Asking your doctor for a referral to a dietitian can be another great avenue in terms of working towards diabetes prevention, said Samantha Moore, registered dietitian with Marshfield Clinic Health System.

“Weight loss through healthy eating and increased physical activity can help to lower your risk factor,” Moore said. “A registered dietitian will work with you to evaluate current lifestyle habits, and help you come up with reasonable intervention methods that can yield long term success.”

Health coaching can help

One program can help you on your health journey, the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP).

The program is a year-long lifestyle change program for people at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes and is based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health. Research showed that among those in DPP with prediabetes, there was a 58% reduction in new cases of diabetes and also a 71% reduction in new cases for those age 60 or older.

DPP is designed for people with a high risk for type 2 diabetes who want to lower their risk.

Participants meet as a group weekly to establish personal goals with a certified lifestyle coach. At Marshfield Clinic Health System, the group meets using video conference tools, although participants may choose to phone in. In the DPP’s interactive and supportive group setting, people are empowered to work toward their individual goals.

“As they progress, participants begin to take ownership of this motivation, becoming their own best health advocates,” said Lisa L. Knoll, DPP Co-Coordinator for Marshfield Clinic Health System.

Health System participants have been successful at weight loss:

  • 7.2% lost after 13 session
  • 3.5% lost after 17 sessions
  • 3.8% lost after 21 sessions
  • 10.1% lost after 23 sessions
  • 11.7% lost after 25 sessions

After 10 months, 77% of participants are still active and engaged in sessions.

“These results were achieved with modest lifestyle changes of decreasing caloric intake and increasing physical activity,” Knoll said.  “We also empower participants with information on managing stress, positive thinking, and asking for support from their families and friends.”

Patients do not need a referral from their primary care provider to join a group.

For more information on prediabetes, visit Marshfield Clinic Health System.

Find out if you are at risk for prediabetes Email about Diabetes Prevention Program

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